Monday, February 5, 2018

Pilot Review: Waco

Waco (Paramount)
Premiered January 24 at 10pm

Now this is a show that I really want to watch because I’m genuinely interested in the subject matter. It’s very similar to “Manhunt: Unabomber” in that it details a much-publicized event in the history of the United States from when I was very young and (fortunately) wasn’t aware of what was going on. This is officially the flagship program of the brand-new Paramount network, which was Spike TV up until a few weeks ago. This show looks a lot like the other mentioned above since it jumps around between different moments to showcase the infamous siege and to give some background information on all of the characters on both sides. What’s most impressive for this much bigger story is the talent involved. Taylor Kitsch, who got his start on “Friday Night Lights” and then headlined season two of “True Detective” gets to play militia leader David Koresh, with Melissa Benoist from “Supergirl” taking on a very different role and both Paul Sparks, from “Boardwalk Empire,” and Andrea Riseborough, who starred in most of the films I just saw at Sundance, also playing members of the Branch Davidians. Two other “Boardwalk Empire” alumni, Michael Shannon and Shea Wigham, are on the side of the FBI, with many more actors sure to have a spotlight in the coming episodes. This opening hour was a bit disjointed in its construction, and I’m hopeful for a more coherent deep dive in the installments to come to truly make sense of who these people were and what led to this standoff taking place.

How will it work as a series? There’s one element of this story which involves the beliefs held by all involve, and the other part of it is the events that actually took place. Digging into the former has already begun, and it’s a matter of negotiating the two and turning it into interesting television that will ultimately make it work.
How long will it last? While it’s hard to tell what’s a miniseries and what’s a traditional drama series these days, this one is definitely the former since it’s a contained story that theoretically goes as in-depth as possible into what occurred without the possibility for a whole new approach in an imagined second season. This show’s success will be more indicative of how its newly-branded network will do, and so far this decently-received, well-watched series seems to be off to a good start for its broadcaster.

Pilot grade: B

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